Kenneth married Morna or Morba, daughter of Alexander Macdougall of Lorn, "de Ergedia," by a daughter of John the first Red Comyn, and sister of John the Black Comyn, Earl of Badenoch. He died in 1304 and was buried in Icolmkill, when he was succeeded by his only son,
II. JOHN MAC KENNETH, OR MAC KENZIE,
The first of the race called Mac Kenny or Mac Kenzie. Dr George Mackenzie, already quoted, says that "the name Coinneach is common to the Pictish and Scottish Gael," and that "Mackenzie, Baron of Kintail, attached himself to the fortunes of the heroic Robert the Bruce, notwithstanding MacDougall's (his father-in-law) tenacious adherence to the cause of Baliol, as is believed, in resentment for the murder of his cousin, the Red Comyn, at Dumfries"; while the Earl of Cromartie says that he "not only sided with Robert Bruce in his contest with the Cumins but that he was one of those who sheltered him in his lurking and assisted him in his restitution; 'for in the Isles,' says Boethius 'he had supply from a friend; and yet Donald of the Isles, who then commanded them, was on the Cumin's side, and raised the Isles to their assistance, and was beat at Deer by Edward Bruce, anno 1308.'" All this is indeed highly probable.
After Bruce left the Island of Rachrin he was for a considerable time lost sight of, many believing that he had perished during his wanderings, from the great hardships which he necessarily endured in his ultimately successful attempts to escape the vigilant efforts and search of his enemies. That Bruce found shelter in Ellandonnan Castle and was there protected for a considerable time by the Baron of Kintail - until he found opportunity again to take the field against his enemies - has ever since been the unbroken tradition in the Highlands, and it has always been handed down from one generation to another as a proud incident in the history of the clan. The Laird of Applecross, who wrote his manuscript history of the Mackenzies in 1669, follows the earlier family historians. He says that this Baron of Kintail "did own the other party, and was one of those who sheltered the Bruce, and assisted in his recovery. I shall not say he was the only one, but this stands for that assertion that all who were considerable in the Hills and Isles were enemies to the Bruce, and so cannot be presumed to be his friends. The Earl of Ross did most unhandsomely and unhumanly apprehend his lady at Tain and delivered her to the English, anno 1305. Donald of the Isles, or Rotholl, or rather Ronald, with all the Hebrides, armed against the Bruce and were beat by Edward Bruce in Buchan, anno 1308. Alexander of Argyll partied (sided with) the Baliol; his country, therefore, was wasted by Bruce, anno 1304, and himself taken by him, 1309. Macdougall of Lorn fought against the Bruce, and took him prisoner, from whom he notably escaped, so that there is none in the district left so considerable as this chief (Mackenzie) who had an immediate dependence on the Royal family and had this strong fort, which was never commanded by the Bruce's enemies, either English or Scots; and that his shelter and assistance was from a remote place and friend is evident from all our stories. But all their neighbours being stated on a different side from the Mackenzies engendered a feud betwixt him and them, especially with the Earl of Ross and Donald of the Isles, which never ended but with the end of the Earl of Ross and lowering of the Lord of the Isles." That this is true will be placed beyond question as we proceed.
It may, indeed, be assumed from subsequent events in the history of these powerful families and the united testimony of all the genealogists of the Mackenzies, that the chief of Kintail did befriend Robert the Bruce against his enemies and protected him in his castle of Ellandonnan, in spite of the commands of his immediate superior, the Earl of Ross, and the united power of all the other great families of the Western Isles and Argyle. And in his independent stand at this important period in the history of Scotland will be found the true grounds of the local rancour which afterwards prevailed between Mackenzie and the Island Lord, and which only terminated in the collapse of the Earls of Ross and the Lords of the Isles, upon the ruins of which, as a reward for proved loyalty to the reigning monarch, and as the result of the characteristic prudence of the race of MacKenneth, the House of Kintail gradually rose in power, subsequently absorbed the ancient inheritance of all the original possessors of the district, and ultimately extended their influence more widely over the whole provinces of Wester and Central Ross.
The genealogists further say that this chief waited on the King during his visit to Inverness in 1312. [The MS. histories of the Mackenzies give the date of Robert Bruce's visit to Inverness as 1307, but from a copy of the "Annual of Norway," at the negotiation and arrangement of which "the eminent Prince, Lord Robert, by the like grace, noble King of Scors (attended) personally on the other part," it will be seen that the date of the visit was 1312. - See 'Invernessiana,' by Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, F,S.A. Scot., pp. 36-40.] This may now be accepted as correct, as also that he fought at the head of his followers at the battle of Inverury, where Bruce defeated Mowbray and the Comyn in 1303. After this important engagement, according to Fenton, "all the nobles, barons, towns, cities, garrisons, and castles north of the Grampians submitted to Robert the Bruce," when, with good reason, the second chief of Clan Kenneth was further confirmed in the favour of his sovereign, and in the government of Ellandonnan.
The Lord of the Isles had in the meantime, after his capture in Argyle, died while confined in Dundonald Castle, when his brother and successor, Angus Og, declared for Bruce. Argyll and Lorn left, or were driven out of the country, and took up their residence in England. With Angus Og of the Isles now on the side of Bruce, and the territories of Argyll and Lorn at his mercy in the absence of their respective chiefs, it was an easy matter for the King, during the varied fortunes of his heroic struggle, defending Scotland from the English, to draw largely upon the resources of the West Highlands and Isles, flow unmolested, particularly after the surprise at Perth in the winter of 1312, and the reduction of all the strongholds in Scotland - except Stirling, Berwick, and Dunbar - during the ensuing summer. The decisive blow, however, yet to be struck by which the independence and liberties of Scotland were to be for ever established and confirmed, and the time was drawing nigh when every nerve would have to be strained for a final effort to clear it, once for all, of the bated followers of the tyrant Edwards, roll them back before an impetuous wave of Scottish valour, and for ever put an end to England's claim to tyrannise over a free-born people whom it was found impossible to crush or cow. Nor, in the words of the Bennetsfield manuscript, "will we affect a morbid indifference to the fact that on the 24th of June, 1314, Bruce's heroic band of thirty thousand warriors on the glorious field of Bannockburn contained above ten thousand Western Highlanders and men of the Isles," under Angus Og of the Isles, Mackenzie of Kintail (who led five hundred of his vassals), and other chiefs of the mainland, of whom Major specially says, that "they made an incredible slaughter of their enemies, slaying heaps of them around wherever they went, and running upon them with their broadswords and daggers like wild bears without any regard to their own lives." Alluding to the same event, Barbour says -
Angus of the Is'es and Bute alsae, And of the plain lands he had mae Of armed men a noble route, His battle stalwart was and stout.
General Stewart of Garth, in a footnote, 'Sketches of the Highlanders,' says that the eighteen Highland chiefs who fought at Bannockburn were - Mackay, Mackintosh, Macpherson, Cameron, Sinclair, Campbell, Menzies, Maclean, Sutherland, Robertson, Grant, Fraser, Macfarlane, Ross, Macgregor, Munro, Mackenzie, and Macquarrie and that "Cumming, Macdougall of Lorn, Macnab, and a few others were unfortunately in opposition to Bruce, and suffered accordingly." In due time the Western chiefs returned home, where on their arrival, many of them found local feuds still smouldering - encouraged by the absence of the natural protectors of the people - amidst the surrounding blaze. John lived peaceably at home during the remainder of his days. He married Margaret, daughter of David de Strathbogie, XIth Earl of Atholl, by Joan, daughter of John, the Red Comyn, last Earl of Badenoch, killed by Robert the Bruce in 1306. He died in 1328, and was succeeded by his only son,
III. KENNETH MACKENZIE,
Commonly called Coinneach na Sroine, or Kenneth of the Nose, from the size of that organ. Very little is known of this chief. But he does not appear to have been long in possession when he found himself serious trouble and unable to cope successfully with the Earl of Ross, who made determined efforts to re-establish the original position of his house over the Barons of Kintail. Wyntoun says that in 1331, Randolph, Earl of Moray, nephew of Robert the Bruce, and at that time Warden of Scotland, sent his Crowner to Ellandonnan, with orders to prepare the castle for his reception and to arrest all "misdoaris" in the district, fifty of whom the Crowner beheaded, and, according to the barbarous practice of even much later times, exposed their heads for the edification of the surrounding lieges high upon the castle walls. Randolph himself soon after arrived and, says the same chronicler, was "right blithe" to see the goodly show of heads "that flowered so weel that wall" - a ghastly warning to all treacherous or plundering "misdoaris." From what occurred on this occasion it is obvious that Kenneth either did not attempt or was not able to govern his people with a firm hand and to keep the district free from plunderers and lawlessness.
It is undoubted that at this time the Earl of Ross succeeded in gaining a considerable hold in the district over which he had all along claimed superiority; for in 1342 William, the fifth and last O'Beolan Earl, is on record as granting a charter of the whole ten davochs of Kintail to Reginald, son of Roderick of the Isles. The charter was granted and dated at the Castle of Urquhart, witnessed by the bishops of Ross and Moray, and confirmed by David II. in 1344. ['Invernessiana,' p.56.] From all this it may fairly be assumed that the line of Mac Kenneth was not far from the breaking point during the reign of Kenneth of the Nose.
Some followers of the Earl of Ross about this time made a raid to the district of Kenlochewe and carried away a great herschip. Mackenzie pursued them, recovered a considerable portion of the spoil, and killed many of the raiders. The Earl of Ross was greatly incensed at Kenneth's conduct in this affair, and he determined to have him apprehended and suitably punished for the murders and other excesses committed by him.
In this he ultimately succeeded. Mackenzie was captured, chiefly through the instrumentality of Leod Mac Gilleandrais - a desperate character, and a vassal and relative of the Earl - and executed at Inverness in 1346, when the lands of Kenlochewe, previously possessed by Kintail, were given to Mac Gilleandrais as a reward for Mackenzie's capture.
On this point the author of the Ardintoul manuscript says, that the lands of Kenlochewe were held by Kenneth Mackenzie "and his predecessors by tack, but not as heritage, for they had no real or heritable right of them until Alexander of Kintail got heritable possession of them from John, Earl of Ross," at a much later date. Ellandonnan Castle, however, held out during the whole of this disturbed and distracted period, and until Kenneth's heir, who at his father's death was a mere boy, came of age, when he fully avenged the death of his father, and succeeded to the inheritance of his ancestors. The garrison meanwhile maintained themselves on the spoil of the enemy. The brave defenders of the castle were able to hold their own throughout and afterwards to hand over the stronghold to their chief when he arrived at a proper age and returned home.
The Earl of Cromarty, who gives a very similar account of this period, concludes his notice of Kenneth in these terms - "Murdered thus, his estate was possessed by the oppressor's followers; but Island Donain keeped still out, maintaining themselves on the spoyle of the enemie. All being trod under by insolince and oppression, right had no place. This was during David Bruce's imprisonment in England," when chaos and disorder ruled supreme, at least in the Highlands.
Kenneth married Finguala, or Florence, daughter of Torquil Macleod, II. of Lewis, by his wife Dorothea, daughter of William, second O'Beolan Earl of Ross by his wife, Joan, daughter of John the first Red Comyn, and sister of John the Black Comyn, Lord of Badenoch and Earl of Buchan, with issue, an only son,
IV. MURDOCH MACKENZIE,
Usually called "Murchadh Dubh na h' Uagh," or Black Murdoch of the Cave, from his habits of life, which shall be described presently.
Murdoch was very young when his father was executed at Inverness. During Kenneth's absence on that occasion, and for some time afterwards, Duncan Macaulay, a great friend, who then owned the district of Lochbroom, had charge of Ellandonnan Castle. The Earl of Ross was determined to secure possession of Murdoch, as he previously did of his father, and Macaulay becoming apprehensive as to his safety sent him, then quite young, accompanied by his own son, for protection to Mackenzie's relative, Macdougall of Lorn. While here the Earl of Ross succeeded in capturing young Macaulay, and in revenge for his father's gallant defence at Ellandonnan during Kenneth's absence, and more recently against his own futile attempts to take that stronghold, he put Macaulay to death, whereupon Murdoch, who barely escaped with his life, left Lorn and sought the protection of his uncle, Macleod of Lewis.
The actual murderer of Macaulay was the same desperate character, Leod Macgilleandrais, a vassal of the Earl of Ross, who had in 1346 been mainly instrumental in the capture and consequent death of Mackenzie's father at Inverness. The Earl of Cromarty describes the assassin as "a depender of the Earl of Ross, and possessed of several lands in Strathcarron (of Easter Ross) and some in Strathoykell." When he killed Macaulay, Leod possessed himself of his lands of Lochbroom and Coigach "whereby that family ended." Macaulay's estates should have gone to Mackenzie in right of his wife, Macaulay's daughter, but "holding of the Earl of Ross, the earl disponed the samen in lyfrent by tack to Leod, albeit Murdo Mackenzie acclaimed it in right of his wyfe."
Leod kept possession of Kenlochewe, which, lying as it did, exactly between Kintail and Lochbroom, he found most convenient as a centre of operations against both, and he repeatedly took advantage of it, though invariably without success so far at least as his main object was concerned - to get possession of the stronghold of Ellandonnan. On the other hand, the brave garrison of the castle made several desperate reprisals under their heroic commander, Macaulay, and held out in spite of all the attempts made to subdue them, until the restoration of David II., by which time Murdoch Mackenzie had grown up a brave and intrepid youth, approaching majority.
The author of the Ardintoul MS. informs us that he was called Murdo of the Cave; being perhaps not well tutored, he preferred sporting and hunting in the hills and forests to going to the Ward School, where the ward children, or the heirs of those who held their lands and wards from the King, were wont or bound to go, and he resorted to the dens and caves about Torridon and Kenlochewe, hoping to get a hit at Leod Macgilleandrais, who was instrumental, under the Earl of Ross, to apprehend and cut off his father. In the meantime Leod hearing of Murdo's resorting to these bounds, that he was kindly entertained by some of the inhabitants, and fearing that he would withdraw the services and affections of the people from himself, and connive some mischief against him for his ill-usage of his father, he left no means untried to apprehend him, so that Mackenzie was obliged to start privately to Lochbroom, from whence, with only one companion, he went to his uncle, Macleod of Lewis, by whom, after he had revealed himself to him alone, he was well received, and both of them resolved to conceal his name until a fit opportunity offered to make known his identity. He, however, met with a certain man named Gille Riabhach who came to Stornoway with twelve men, about the same time as himself, and he, in the strictest confidence, told Gille Riabhach that he was Mackenzie of Kintail, which secret the latter kept strictly inviolate. Macleod entertained his nephew, keeping it an absolute secret from others who he was, that his enemies might think that he was dead, and so feel the greater security till such time as they would deem it wise that he should act for himself and make an attempt to rescue his possessions from Macgilleandrais, who now felt quite secure, thinking that Mackenzie had perished, having for so long heard nothing concerning him. When a suitable time arrived his uncle gave Murdo two of his great galleys, with as many men (six score) as he desired, to accompany him, his cousin german Macleod, the Gille Riabhach and his twelve followers, all of whom determined to seek their fortunes with young Kintail. They embarked at Stornoway, and securing a favourable wind they soon arrived at Sanachan, in Kishorn (some say at Poolewe), where they landed, marched straight towards Kenlochewe, and arrived at a thick wood near the place where Macgilleandrais had his residence. Mackenzie commanded his followers to lie down and watch, while he and his companion, Gille Riabhach, went about in search of intelligence. He soon found a woman cutting rushes, at the same time lamenting his own supposed death and Leod Macgillearidrais' succession to the lands of Kenlochewe in consequence. He at once recognised her as the woman's sister who nursed or fostered him, drew near, spoke to her, sounded her, and discovering her unmistakeable affection for him he felt that he could with perfect safety make himself known to her. She was overjoyed to find that it was really he, whose absence and loss she had so intensely and so long lamented. He then requested her to go and procure him information of Leod's situation and occupation that night. This she did with great propriety and discretion. Having satisfied herself, she returned at the appointed time and assured him that Macgilleandrais felt perfectly secure, quite unprepared for an attack, and bad just appointed to meet the adjacent people next morning at a place called Ath-nan-Ceann (the Ford of the Heads), preparatory to a hunting match, having instructed those who might arrive before him to wait his arrival. Mackenzie considered this an excellent opportunity for punishing Leod. He in good time went to the ford accompanied by his followers. Those invited by Leod soon after arrived, and, seeing Mackenzie before them, thought he was Macgilleandrais with some of his men, but soon discovered their mistake. Mackenzie killed all those whom he did not recognise as soon as they appeared. The natives of the place, who were personally known to him, he pardoned and dismissed. Leod soon turned up, and seeing such a gathering awaiting him, naturally thought that they were his own friends, and hastened towards them, but on approaching nearer he found himself "in the fool's hose." Mackenzie and his band fell upon them with their swords, and after a slight resistance Macgilleandrais and his party fled, but they were soon overtaken at a place called to this day Featha Leoid or Leod's Bog, where they were all slain, except Leod's son Paul, who was taken prisoner and kept in captivity for some time, but was afterwards released upon plighting his faith that he would never again trouble Mackenzie or resent against him his father's death. Murdoch Mackenzie being thus re-possessed of Kenlochewe, "gave Leod Macgilleandrais' widow to Gillereach to wife for his good services and fidelity, whose posterity live at Kenlochewe and thereabout, and to this day some of them live there." According to the Cromarty MS., Mackenzie possessed himself of Lochbroom in right of his wife and disposed of Coigach to his cousin Macleod, "for his notable assistance in his distress; which lands they both retained but could obtain no charters from the Earls of Ross, of whom they held, the Earls of Ross pretending that they fell to themselves in default of male heirs, the other retaining possession in right of his wife as heir of line."
Paul Macgilleandrais some years after this repaired to the confines of Sutherland and Caithness, prevailed upon Murdo Riabhach, Kintail's illegitimate son, to join him, and, according to one authority, became "a common depredator," while according to another, he became what was perhaps not inconsistent in those days with the character of a desperado - a person of considerable state and property. They often "spoiled" Caithness. The Earl of Cromarty, referring to this raid, says that Paul "desired to make a spoil on some neighbouring country, a barbarous custom but most ordinary in those days, as thinking thereby to acquire the repute of valour and to become formidable as the greatest security amidst their unhappy feuds. This, their prentice try or first exhibition, was called in Irish (Gaelic) 'Creach mhacain' the young man's herschip." Ultimately Murdo Riabhach and Paul's only son were killed by Budge of Toftingall. Paul was so mortified at the death of his young depredator son that he gave up building the fortress of Duncreich, which he was at the time erecting to strengthen still more his position in the county. He gave his lands of Strathoykel, Strathcarron, and Westray, with his daughter and heiress in marriage, to Walter Ross, III. of Balnagown, on which condition he obtained pardon from the Earl of Ross, the chief and superior of both.
Mackenzie, after disposing of Macgilleandrais, returned to his own country, where he was received with open arms by the whole population of the district. He then married the only daughter of his gallant friend and defender, Duncan Macaulay - whose only son, Murdoch, had been killed by Macgilleandrais - and through her his son ultimately succeeded to the lands of Lochbroom and Coigeach granted to Macaulay's predecessor by Alexander II. Mackenzie was now engaged principally in preserving and improving his possessions, until the return of David II. from England, 1357-8, when Murdoch laid before the King a complaint against the Earl of Ross for the murder of his father, and claimed redress but the only satisfaction he ever obtained was a confirmation of his rights previously granted by the King to "Murdo filius Kennethi de Kintaill, etc.," dated "Edinburg 1362, et Regni Domini Regis VI., Testibus Waltero Senescollo et allis." [MS. History of the Mackenzies.]
Of Murdoch Dubh's reign, the Laird of Applecross says: "During this turbulent age, securities and writs, as well as laws, were little regarded; each man's protection lay in his own strength." Kintail regularly attended the first Parliament of Robert II., until it was decreed by that King and his Privy Council that the services of the "lesser barons" should not be required in future Parliaments or General Councils. He then returned home, and spent most of his time in hunting and wild sports, of which he was devotedly fond, living peaceably and undisturbed during the remainder of his days.
This Baron of Kintail took no share in the recent rebellion under the Lord of the Isles, who, backed by most of the other West Highland chiefs, attempted to throw off his independence and have himself proclaimed King of the Isles. The feeble and effeminate Government of David II., and the evil results consequent thereon throughout the country, encouraged the island lord in this desperate enterprise, but, as Tytler says, the King on this occasion, with an unwonted energy of character, commanded the attendance of the Steward, with the prelates and barons of the realm, and surrounded by this formidable body of vassals and retainers, proceeded against the rebels in person." The expedition proved completely successful, and John of the Isles, with a numerous train of chieftains who joined him in the rebellion, met the King at Inverness, and submitted to his authority. He there engaged in the most solemn manner, for himself and for his vassals, that they should yield themselves faithful and obedient subjects to David their liege lord, and not only give due and prompt obedience to the ministers of the King in suit and service, as well as in the payment of taxes and public burdens, but that they would coerce and put down all others, and compel all who dared to rise against the King's authority to make due submission, or pursue them from their respective territories." For the fulfilment of these obligations, the Lord of the Isles not only gave his most solemn oath before the King and his nobles, on condition of forfeiting his whole possessions in case of failure, but offered his father-in-law, the High Steward, in security and delivered his son Donald, his grandson Angus, and his natural son, also named Donald, as hostages for the strict performance of the articles of the treaty, which was duly signed, attested and dated, the 15th November, 1369. [For a full copy of this instrument, see 'Invernessiana,' pp. 69-70.]
Fordun says that in order to crush the Highlanders, and the more easily, as the King thought, to secure obedience to the laws, he used artifice by dividing the chiefs and promising high rewards to those who would capture or kill their brother lords; and, that writer continues "this diabolical plan, by implanting the seeds of disunion amongst the chiefs, succeeded, and they gradually destroyed one another."
Before his marriage Murdoch had three illegitimate sons. One of them was called Hector or Eachainn Biorach. He acquired the lands of Drumnamarg by marrying Helen, daughter of Loban or Logan of Drum-namarg, who, according to the Earl of Cromarty, "was one of the Earl of Ross's feuars. This superior having an innate enmity with Kenneth's race, was the cause that this Hector had no peaceable possession of Drumnamarg, but turning outlaw, retired to Eddirachillis, where he left a son called Henry, of whom are descended a race yet possessing there, called Sliochd Ionraic, or Henry's race." The second bastard was named Dugald Deargshuileach, "from his red eyes." From him descended John Mackenzie, Commissary-Depute of Ross, afterwards in Cromarty, Rev. Roderick Mackenzie, minister of Croy, John Mackenzie, a writer in Edinburgh, and several others of the name. The third bastard was named Alexander, and from him descended Clann Mhurchaidh Mhoir in Ledgowan, and many of the common people who resided in the Braes of Ross.
Murdoch had another son Murdoch Riach, after his wife's death, by a daughter of the Laird of Assynt, also illegitimate, although the Laird of Applecross says that he was "by another wife." This Murdoch retired to Edderachillis and married a Sutherland woman there, "where, setting up an independent establishment, he became formidable in checking the Earl of Ross in his excursions against his clan, till he was killed by a Caithness man named Budge of Toftingall. His descendants are still styled Clann Mhuirich, and among them we trace Daniel Mackenzie, who arrived at the rank of Colonel in the service of the Statholder, who had a son Barnard, who was Major in Seaforth's regiment, and killed at the battle of Auldearn. He too left a son, Barnard, who taught Greek and Latin for four years at Fortrose, was next ordained by the Bishop of Ross and presented to the Episcopal Church of Cromarty, where, after a variety of fortunes, he died, and was buried in the Cathedral Church of Fortrose. Alexander, eldest son of this last (Barnard), studied medicine under Boerhave, and retired to practice at Fortrose. He married Ann, daughter of Alexander Mackenzie of Belmaduthy, purchased the lands of Kinnock, and left a son, Barnard, and two daughters, Catherine and Ann." [Bennetsfield MS. of the Mackenzies.]
This was the turbulent and insecure state of affairs throughout the Kingdom when the chief of Mackenzie was peaceably and quietly enjoying himself in his Highland home. He died in 1375. [Murdo became a great favourite latterly with all those with whom he came in contact. "He fell in company with the Earl of Sutherland, who became his very good friend afterwards, as that he still resorted his court. In end (being comely of person and one active young man) the Earl's lady (who was King Robert the Bruce's young daughter) fell in conceit of him, and both forgetting the Earl's kindness, by her persuasion, he got her with child, who she caused name Dougall," and the earl suspecting nothing amiss "caused bred him at schools with the rest of his children but Dougall being as ill-given as gotten, he still injured the rest, and when the earl would challenge or offer to beat him, the Ladie still said, 'Dear heart, let him alone, it is hard to tell Dougall's father,' which the good earle always took in good part. In end, he comeing to years of discretion, she told her husband that Mackenzie was his father, and shortly thereafter, by way of merriment, told the King how his lady cheated him. The King, finding him to be his own cousine and of parts of learning, with all to pleasure the earle and his lady, he made Dougall prior of Beauly." - Ancient MS.]
By his wife Isabel, only child of Macaulay of Lochbroom, Murdoch Dubh had a son and successor,
V. MURDOCH MACKENZIE,
Known as "Murchadh na Drochaid," or Murdoch of the Bridge. The author of the Ardintoul MS. say's that "he was called Murdo na Droit by reason of some bad treatment his lady met with at the Bridge of Scatwell, which happened on this occasion. He having lived for many years with his lady and getting no children, and so fearing that the direct line of his family might fail in his person, was a little concerned and troubled thereat, which being understood by some sycophants and flatterers that were about him and would fain curry his favour, they thought that they could not ingratiate themselves more on him than putting his lady out of the way, whereby he might marry another, and they waited an opportunity to put their design in execution (some say not without his connivance), and so on a certain evening or late at night as she was going to Achilty, where her laird lived, these wicked flatterers did presumptuously and barbarously cast her over the Bridge of Scatwell, and then their conscience accusing them for that horrid act they made off with themselves. But the wonderful providence of God carried the innocent lady (who was then with child) nowithstanding the impetuousness of the river, safe to the shore, and enabled her in the night-time to travel the length of Achilty, where her husband did impatiently wait her coming, that being the night she promised to be home, and entertained her very kindly, being greatly offended at the maltreatment she met with. The child she had then in the womb was afterwards called Alexander, and some say agnamed Inrick because by a miracle of Providence he escaped that danger and afterwards became heir to his father and inherited his estate." The author of the Applecross MS. says that this Baron was called "Murchadh no Droit" from "the circumstances that his mother being with child of him, had been saved after a fearful fall from the Bridge of Scattal into the Water of Conon." The writer of the "Ancient" MS. history of the Mackenzies, the oldest in existence, suggests that Mackenzie himself may have instigated the ruffians to do away with his wife. "They lived," he says, "a considerable time together childless, but men in those days (of whom be reason) preferred succession and manhood to wedlock. He caused to throw her under silence of night over the Bridge of Scatwell, but by Providence and by the course of the river she was cast ashore and escaped, went back immediately to his house, then at Achilty, and went to his bedside in a fond condition. But commiserating her case and repenting over the deed he gave her a hearty reception, learned from her that she expected soon to become a mother, and "so afterwards they lived together contentedly all their days."
During his earlier years Murdoch appears to have lived a peaceful life, following the example of loyalty to the Crown set him by his father, keeping the laws himself, and compelling those over whom his jurisdiction extended to do the same. Nor, if we believe the MS. historians of the family, was this dutiful and loyal conduct allowed to go unrewarded. All the successors of the Earl of Cromarty follow his lordship in saying that a charter was given by King Robert to Murdo, "filius Murdochi de Kintail," of Kintail and Laggan Achadrom, dated at Edinburgh, anno 1380, attested by "Willielmus de Douglas, et Archibaldo de Galloway, et Joanne, Cancellario Scotiae." As already stated, however, no such charter as this, or the one previously mentioned on the same authority as having been granted to Murdoch IV. of Kintail, in 1362, is on record.
Murdoch was one of the sixteen Highland chiefs who accompanied the Scots under James, second Earl of Douglas, in his famous march to England and defeated Sir Henry Percy, the renowned Hotspur, at the memorable battle of Otterburn, or Chevy Chase, in 1388.
The period immediately following this historical raid across the Border was more than usually turbulent even for those days in the Scottish Highlands, but Mackenzie managed to escape involving himself seriously with either party to the many quarrels which culminated in the final struggle for the earldom of Ross between the Duke of Albany and Donald, Lord of the Isles, in 1411, at the battle of Harlaw.
As soon as the news of the disaster to the Earl of Mar, who commanded at Harlaw, reached the ears of the Duke of Albany, at the time Regent for Scotland, he set about collecting an army with which, in the following autumn, he marched in person to the north determined to bring the Lord of the Isles to obedience. Having taken possession of the Castle of Dingwall, he appointed a governor to it, and from thence proceeded to recover the whole of Ross. Donald retreated before him, taking up his winter quarters in the Western Islands. Hostilities were renewed next summer, but the contest was not long or doubtful, notwithstanding some little advantages obtained by the Lord of the Isles. He was compelled for a time to give up his claim to the earldom of Ross, to become a vassal of the Scottish Crown, arid to deliver hostages for his good behaviour in the future.
Murdoch must have felt secure in his stronghold of Ellandonnan, and been a man of great prudence, sagacity, and force of character, when, in spite of the commands of his nominal superior - the Lord of the Isles - to support him in these unlawful and rebellious proceedings against the King and threats of punishment in case of refusal, he resolutely declined to join him in his desperate and treasonable adventures. He went the length of saying that even if his lordship's claims were just in themselves, they would not justify a rebellion against the existing Government; and he further informed him that, altogether independently of that important consideration, he felt no great incentive to aid in the cause of the representative of his grandfather's murderer. Mackenzie was in fact one of those prudent and loyal chiefs who kept at home in the Highlands, looking after his own affairs, the comfort of his followers, and laying a solid foundation for the future prosperity of his house, "which was so characteristic of them that they always esteemed the authority of the magistrate as an inviolable obligation."
Donald of the Isles never forgave Mackenzie for thus refusing to assist him in obtaining the Earldom of Ross, and he determined to ruin him if he could. On this subject the Earl of Cromartie says that at the battle of Harlaw Donald was assisted by almost "all the northern people, Mackenzie excepted, who because of the many injuries received by his predecessors from the Earls of Ross, and chiefly by the instigation and concurrence of Donald's predecessors, he withdrew and refused concurrence. Donald resolved to ruin him, but deferred it till his return, which falling out more unfortunately than he expected, did not allow him power nor opportunity to use the vengeance he intended, for on his return to Ross he sent Mackenzie a friend with fair speeches desiring his friendship, thinking no enemy despicable as he then stood." Murdoch, at Donald's request, proceeded to Dingwall, where the Island Lord urged him to join and promise him to support his interest. This Mackenzie firmly refused, "partly out of hatred to his family for old feuds, partly dissuaded by Donald's declining fortunes" at that particular period; whereupon the Lord of the Isles made Murdoch prisoner in an underground chamber in the Castle of Dingwall. He was not long here, however, when he found an opportunity of making his plight known to some of his friends, and he was soon after released in exchange for some of Donald's immediate relatives who had been purposely captured by Mackenzie's devoted vassals.
Here it may be appropriate to give the traditionary account of the origin of the Macraes and how they first found their way to Kintail and other places in the West; for their relationship with the Mackenzies has from the earliest times been of the closest and most loyal character. Indeed, from the aid they invariably afforded them they have been aptly described as "Mackenzie's shirt of mail." According to the Rev. John Macrae, minister of Dingwall, who died in 1704, and wrote the only existing trustworthy history and genealogy of his own clan, the Macraes came originally from Clunes, in the Aird of Lovat, recently acquired from patriotic family reasons by Horatio Macrae, W.S., Edinburgh, the representative in this country of the Macraes of Inverinate, who were admittedly the chiefs of that brave and warlike race. The Rev. John Macrae, who was himself a member of the Inverinate family, says that the Macraes left the Aird under the following circumstances: A dispute had arisen in the hunting field between Macrae of Clunes and a bastard son of Lovat, when a son of Macrae intervened to protect his father, and killed Fraser's son in the scuffle. The victor "immediately ran oft; and calling himself John Carrach, that he might be less known, settled on the West Coast, and of him are descended the branch of the Macraes called Clann Ian Charraich. It was some time after this that his brethren and other relatives began seriously to consider that Lovat's own kindred and friends became too numerous, and that the country could not accommodate them all, which was a motive for their removing to other places according as they had encouragement. One of the brothers went to Brae Ross and lived at Brahan, where there is a piece of land called Knock Vic Ra, and the spring well which affords water to the Castle is called Tober Vic Ra. His succession spread westward to Strathgarve, Strathbraan, and Strathconan, where several of them live at this time. John Macrae, who was a merchant in Inverness, and some of his brethren, were of them, and some others in Ardmeanach. Other two of MacRa's sons, elder than the above, went off from Clunes several ways; one is said to have gone to Argyleshire and another to Kintail. In the meantime their father remained at Clunes all his days, and bad four Lords Fraser of Lovat fostered in his house. He that went to Argyle, according to our tradition, married the heiress of Craignish, and on that account took the surname of Campbell. The other brother who went to Kintail, earnestly invited and encouraged by Mackenzie, who then had no kindred of his own blood, the first six Barons, or Lords of Kintail, having but one lawful son to succeed the father, hoping that the MacRas, by reason of their relation, as being originally descended from the same race of people in Ireland would prove more faithful than others, wherein he was not disappointed, for the MacRas of Kintail served him and his successors very faithfully in every quarrel they had with neighbouring clans, and by their industry, blood, and courage, have been instrumental in raising that family." The writer adds that he does not know Macrae's christian name, but that he married "a daughter or grand-daughter of MacBeolan, who possessed a large part of Kintail before Mackenzie's predecessors got a right of it from Alexander III." This marriage, and their common ancestry from a native Celtic source, and not from "the same race of people in Ireland" seems a much more probable explanation of the early and continued friendship which existed between the two families than that suggested by the rev. author of "The Genealogy of the Macraes," above quoted.
But the curious circumstance to which he directs attention regarding the first five Mackenzie chiefs is quite true. It is borne out by every genealogy of the House of Kintail which we have ever seen. There is not a trace of any legitimate male descendant from the first of the name down to Alexander, the sixth baron, except the immediately succeeding chief, so that their vassals and followers in the field and elsewhere must, for nearly two hundred years, have been men of different septs and tribes and names, except the progeny of their own illegitimate sons, such as "Sliochd Mhurcbaidh Riabhaich" and others of similar base origin.
Murdoch married Finguala or Florence, daughter of Malcolm Macleod, III. of Harris and Dunvegan, by his wife, Martha, daughter of Donald Stewart, Earl of Mar, nephew of King Robert the Bruce. By this marriage the Royal blood of the Bruce was introduced for the first time into the family of Kintail, as also that of the ancient Kings of Man. Tormod Macleod, II. of Harris, who was grandson of Olave the Black, last Norwegian King of Man, and who, as we have seen, had married Christina, daughter of Ferquhard O'Beolan, Earl of Ross, married Finguala Mac Crotan, the daughter of an ancient and powerful Irish chief. By this lady Malcolm Macleod, III. of Harris and Dunvegan, had issue, among others, Finguala, who now became the wife of Murdoch Mackenzie and mother of Alexander Ionraic, who carried on the succession of the ancient line of Kintail.
Murdoch died in 1416 when he was succeeded by his only son,
VI. ALEXANDER MACKENZIE,
Alastair Ionraic, or Alexander the Upright, so called "for his righteousness." He was among the Western barons summoned in 1427, to meet King James I. at Inverness, who, on his return from a long captivity in England, in 1424, determined to put down the rebellion and oppression which was then and for some time previously so rampant in the Highlands. To judge by the poceedings of a Parliament held at Perth on the 30th September 1426, James exhibited a foresight and appreciation of the conduct of the lairds in those days, and passed laws which might with good effect, and with equal propriety, be applied to the state of affairs in our own time. In that Parliament an Act was passed which, among other things, ordained that, north of the Grampians, the fruit of those lands should be expended in the country where those lands lie. The Act is as follows: "It is ordanit be the King ande the Parliament that everilk lorde hafande landis bezonde the mownthe (the Grampians) in the quhilk landis in auld tymes there was castellis, fortalyces and manerplaicis, big, reparell and reforme their castellis and maneris, and duell in thame, be thameself, or be ane of thare frendis for the gracious gournall of thar landis, be gude polising and to expende ye fruyt of thar landis in the countree where thar landis lyis." [Invernessiana, p.102.]
James was determined to bring the Highlanders to submission, and Fordun relates a characteristic anecdote in which the King pointedly declared his resolution. When the excesses in the Highlands were first reported to him by one of his nobles, on entering Scotland, he thus expressed himself: "Let God but grant me life, and there shall not be a spot in my dominions where the key shall riot keep the castle, and the furze bush the cow, though I myself should lead the life of a dog to accomplish it"; and it was in this frame of mind that he visited Inverness in 1427, determined to establish good government and order in the North, then in such a state of insubordination that neither life nor property was secure. The principal chiefs, on his order or invitation met him, from what motives it is impossible to determine - whether hoping for a reconciliation by prompt compliance with the Royal will, or from a dread, in case of refusal, to suffer the fate of the Southern barons who had already fallen victims to his severity. The order was in any case obeyed, and all the leading chiefs repaired to meet him at the Castle of Inverness. As they entered the hall, however, where the Parliament was at the time sitting, they were, one by one, by order of the King, arrested, ironed, and imprisoned in different apartments, and debarred from having any communications with each other, or with their followers.
Fordun says that James displayed marks of great joy as these turbulent and haughty spirits, caught in the toils which he had prepared for them, came voluntarily within reach of his regal power, and that he "caused to be arrested Alexander of the Isles, and his mother, Countess of Ross, daughter and heiress of Sir Walter Lesley, as well as the more notable men of the north, each of whom he wisely invited singly to the Castle, and caused to be put in strict confinement apart. There he also arrested Angus Duff (Angus Dubh Mackay) with his four sons, the leader of 4000 men from Strathnarven (Strathnaver.) Kenneth More, with his son-in-law, leader of two thousand men; [All writers on the Clan Mackenzie have hitherto claimed this Kenneth More as their Chief, and argued from the above that Mackenzie had a following of two thousand fighting men in 1427. It will be seen that Alexander was Chief at this time, but Kenneth More may have been intended for MacKenneth More, or the Great Mackenzie. He certainly could have had no such following of his own name.] John Ross, William Lesley, Angus de Moravia, and Macmaken, leaders of two thousand men; and also other lawless caterans and great captains in proportion, to the number of about fifty Alexander Makgorrie (MacGodfrey) of Garmoran, and John Macarthur (of the family of Campbell), a great chief among his own clan, and the leader of a thousand and more, were convicted, and being adjudged to death were beheaded. Then James Cambel was hanged, being accused and convicted of the slaughter of John of the Isles (John Mor, first of the Macdonalds of Isla.) The rest were sent here and there to the different castles of the noblemen throughout the kingdom, and were afterwards condemned to different kinds of death, and some were set at liberty." Among the latter was Alexander of Kintail. The King sent him, then a mere youth, to the High School at Perth, at that time the principal literary seminary in the kingdom, while the city itself was frequently the seat of the Court.
During Kintail's absence it appears that his three bastard uncles ravaged the district of Kinlochewe, for we find them insulting and troubling "Mackenzie's tenants in Kenlochewe and Kintail Macaulay, who was still Constable in Ellandonnan, not thinking it proper to leave his post, proposed Finlay Dubh Mac Gillechriost as the fittest person to be sent to St. Johnston, now Perth, and by general consent he accordingly went to inform his young master, who was then there with the rest of the King's ward children at school, of his lordship's tenants being imposed on as above, which, with Finlay's remonstrance on the subject, prevailed on Alexander, his young master, to come home, and being backed with all the assistance Finlay could command, soon brought his three bastard uncles to condign punishment." [Genealogical Account of the Macraes.]
The writer of the Ardintoul MS. says that Finlay "prevailed on him to go home without letting the master of the school know of it. Trysting with him at a certaiu place and set hour they set off, and, lest any should surprise them, they declined the common road and went to Macdougall of Lorn, he being acquainted with him at St. Johnston. Macdougall entertained him kindly, and kept him with him for several days. He at that time made his acquaintance with Macdougall's daughter, whom afterwards he married, and from thence came to his own Kintail, and having his authority and right backed with the power of the people, he calls his bastard uncles before him, and removes their quarters from Kenlochewe, and gave them possessions in Glenelchaig in Kintail prescribing measures and rule for them how to behave, assuring them, though he pardoned them at that time, they should forfeit favours and be severely punished if they transgressed for the future; but after this, going to the county of Ross to their old dwelling at Kenlochewe, they turned to practice their old tricks and broke loose, so that he was forced to correct their insolency and make them shorter by the heads, and thus the people were quit of their trouble."
The young Lord of the Isles was at the same time that Mackenzie went to Perth sent to Edinburgh, from which he soon afterwards escaped to the North, at the instigation of his mother, the Countess, raised his vassals, and, joined by all the outlaws and vagabonds in the country, numbering a formidable body of about ten thousand, he laid waste the country, plundered and devastated the crown lands, against which his vengeance was specially directed, razed the Royal burgh of Inverness to the ground, pillaged and burned the houses, and perpetrated every description of cruelty. He then besieged the Castle, but without success, after which he retired precipitately towards Lochaber, where he was met by the Royal forces, commanded by the King in person. The Lord of the Isles prepared for battle, but he had the mortification to notice the desertion of Clan Chattan and Clan Cameron, who had previously joined him, and of seeing them going over in a body to the Royal standard. The King immediately attacked the island chief and completely routed his forces, while their leader sought safety in flight. He was vigorously pursued, and finding escape or concealment equally impossible, and being reduced to the utmost distress, hunted from place to place by his vigilant pursuers, the haughty chief resolved to throw himself entirely on the mercy of His Majesty, and finding his way to Edinburgh in the most secret manner, and on the occasion of a solemn festival on Easter Sunday, in 429, at Holyrood, he suddenly appeared in his shirt and drawers before the King and Queen, surrounded by all the nobles of the Court, while they were engaged in their devotions before the High Altar, and implored, on his knees, with a naked sword held by the point in his hand, the forgiveness of his sovereign. With bonnet in hand, his legs and arms quite bare, his body covered only with a plaid, and in token of absolute submission, he offered his sword to the King. His appearance, strengthened by the solicitations of the affected Queen and all the nobles, made such an impression on His Majesty that he submitted to the promptings of his heart against the wiser and more prudent dictates of his judgment. He accepted the sword offered him, and spared the life of his captive, but immediately committed him to Tantallon Castle, under the charge of William Douglas, Earl of Angus. The spirit of Alexander's followers, however, could not brook this mortal offence, and the whole strength of the clan was promptly mustered under his cousin Donald Balloch, who led them to Lochaber, where they met the King's forces under the Earls of Mar and Caithness, killed the latter, gained a complete victory over the Royal army, and returned to the Isles in triumph, with an immense quantity of spoil.
James soon after proceeded north in person as far as Dunstaffnage; Donald Balloch fled to Ireland; and, after several encounters with the rebels, the King obtained the submission of the majority of the chiefs who were engaged in the rebellion, while others were promptly apprehended and executed to the number of about three hundred. The King thereupon released the Lord of the Isles from Tantallon Castle, and granted him a free pardon for all his rebellious acts, confirmed him in all his titles and possessions, and further conferred upon him, in addition, the Lordship of Lochaber, which had previously, on its forfeiture, been granted to the Earl of Mar.
After his first escape from Edinburgh, the Lord of the Isles again in 1429 raised the standard of revolt. He for the second time burnt the town of Inverness, while Mackenzie was "attending to his duties at Court." Kintail was recalled by his followers, who armed for the King, and led by their young chief on his return home, they materially aided in the overthrow of Alexander of the Isles at the same time securing peace and good government in their own district, and among most of the surrounding tribes. Alexander is also found actively supporting the King, and with the Royal army, during the turbulent rule of John, successor to Alexander, Lord of the Isles, who afterwards, in 1447, died at peace with his sovereign.
James I. died in 1460, and was succeeded by James II. When, in 1462, the Earl of Douglas, the Lord of the Isles, and Donald Balloch of Isla entered into a treaty with the King of England for the subjugation of Scotland, on condition, in the event of success, that the whole of Scotland, north of the Firth of Forth, should be divided between them, Alexander Mackenzie stood firm in the interest of the ruling monarch, and with such success that nothing came of this extraordinary compact. We soon after find him rewarded by a charter in his favour, dated 7th January 1463, confirming him in his lands of Kintail, with a further grant of the "5 merk lands of Killin, the lands of Garve, and the 2 merk lands of Coryvulzie, with the three merk lands of Kinlochluichart, and 2 merk lands of Ach-na-Clerich, the 2 merk lands of Garbat, the merk lands of Delintan, and the 4 merk lands of Tarvie, all lying within the shire and Earldom of Ross, to be holden of the said John and his successors, Earls of Ross." This is the first Crown charter in favour of the Mackenzie chief of which any authentic record exists.
Alexander continued to use his great influence at Court, as well as with John Lord of the Isles, for the purpose of bringing about a reconciliation between his Majesty and his powerful subject during the unnatural rebellion of Angus Og against his father. The King, however, proved inexorable, and refused to treat with the Earl on any condition other than the absolute and unconditional surrender of the earldom of Ross to the Crown, of which, however, he would be allowed to hold all his other possessions in future. These conditions the island chief haughtily refused, again flew to arms, and in 1476 invaded Moray, but finding that he could offer no effectual resistance to the powerful forces sent against him by the King, he, by the seasonable grants of the lands of Knapdale and Kintyre, secured the influence of Colin, first Earl of Argyll, in his favour, and with the additional assistance of Kintail, procured remission of his past offences on the conditions previously offered to him and resigning for ever, in 1476, the Earldom of Ross to the King, he "was infeft of new" in the Lordship of the Isles and the other possessions which he had not been called upon to renounce. The Earldom was in the same year, in the 9th Parliament of James III., irrevocably annexed to the Crown, where the title and the honours still remain, held by the Prince of Wales.
The great services rendered by the Baron of Kintail to the reigning family, especially during these negotiations, and generally throughout his long rule at Ellandonnan, were recognised by a charter from the Crown, dated Edinburgh, November 1476, of some of the lands renounced by the Earl of Ross, viz., Strathconan, Strathbraan, and Strathgarve; and after this the Barons of Kintail held all their lands quite independently of any superior but the Crown.
During the long continued disputes between the Earl of Ross and Kintail no one was more zealous in the cause of the island chief than Allan Macdonald of Moydart, who, during Mackenzie's absence, made several raids into Kintail, ravaged the country, and carried away large numbers of cattle. After the forfeiture of the Earldom of Ross, Allan's youngest brother, supported by a faction of the tenantry, rebelled against his elder brother, and possessed himself for a time of the Moydart estates. The Lord of the Isles was unwilling to appear so soon in these broils; or perhaps he favoured the pretentions of the younger brother, and refused to give any assistance to Allan, who, however, hit upon a device as bold as it ultimately proved successful. He started for Kinellan, "being ane ile in ane loch," where Mackenzie at the time resided, and presented himself personally before his old enemy, who was naturally surprised beyond measure to receive such a visit from one to whom he had never been reconciled. Allan, however, related how he had been oppressed by his brother and his nearest friends and how he had been refused aid from those to whom he had a natural right to look for it. In these desperate circumstances he resolved to apply to his greatest enemy, who, he argued, might for any assistance he could give gain in return as faithful a friend as he bad previously been his "diligent adversary." Alexander, on hearing the story, was moved to pity by the manner in which Allan had been oppressed by his own relatives, promised him the required support, proceeded in person with a sufficient force to repossess him, and finally accomplished his purpose. The other Macdonalds, who had been dispossessed thereupon represented to the King that Alexander Mackenzie had invaded their territory as a "disturber of the peace, and ane oppressor," the result being that he was cited before His Majesty at Edinburgh, "but here was occasion given to Allan to requite Alexander's generosity, for Alexander having raised armies to assist him, without commission, he found in it a transgression of the law, though just upon the matter; so to prevent Alexander's prejudice, he presently went to Holyrood house, where the King was, and being of a bold temper, did truly relate how his and Alexander's affairs stood, showing withal that he, as being the occasion of it, was ready to suffer what law would exact rather than to expose so generous a friend to any hazard. King James was so taken with their reciprocal heroisms, that he not only forgave, but allowed Alexander, and of new confirmed Allan in the lands of Moydart." [Cromartie MS. of the Mackenzies.] The two were then allowed to return home unmolested.
Some time before this a desperate skirmish took place at a place called Bealach nam Brog, "betwixt the heights of Fearann Donuil and Lochbraon" (Dundonald and Lochbroom), which was brought about by some of Kintail's vassals, instigated by Donald Garbh M'Iver, who attempted to seize the Earl of Ross. The plot was, however, discovered, and M'Iver was seized by the Lord of the Isles' followers, and imprisoned in the Castle of Dingwall. He was soon released, however, by his undaunted countrymen from Kenlochewe, consisting of Macivers, Maclennans, Macaulays, and Macleays, who, by way of reprisal, pursued and seized the Earl's relative, Alexander Ross of Balnagown, and carried him along with them. The Earl at once apprised Lord Lovat, who was then His Majesty's Lieutenant in the North, of the illegal seizure of Balnagown, and his lordship promptly dispatched northward two hundred men, who, joined by Ross's vassals, the Munroes of Fowlis, and the Dingwalls of Kildun, pursued and overtook the western tribes at Bealach nam Brog, where they were resting themselves. A sanguinary conflict ensued, aggravated and more than usually exasperated by a keen and bitter recollection of ancient feuds and animosities. The Kenlochewe men seem to have been almost extirpated. The race of Dingwall were actually extinguished, one hundred and forty of their men having been slain, while the family of Fowlis lost eleven members of their house alone, with many of the leading men of their clan. ["Among the rest ther wer slain eleven Monroes or the House or Foulls, that wer to succeed one after another; so that the succession of Foulls fell into a chyld then lying in his cradle." - Sir Robert Gordon's History 0f the Earldom of Sutherland, p. 36.]
An interesting account of this skirmish and the cause which led to it is given in one of the family manuscripts. It says Euphemia Leslie, Countess Dowager of Ross, lived at Dingwall. She would gladly have married Alexander of Kintail, he being a proper handsome young man, and she signified no less to himself. He refused the offer, perhaps, because he plighted his faith to Macdougall's daughter, but though he had not had done so, he had all the reason imaginable to reject the Countess's offer, for besides that she was not able to add to his estate, being but a life-rentrix, she was a turbulent woman, and therefore, in the year 1426, the King committed her to prison in St. Colin's Isle (Dingwall), because she had instigated her son, Alexander Earl of Ross, to rebellion. She invited Kintail to her Court in Dingwall to make a last effort, but finding him obstinate she converted her love to hatred and revenge, and made him prisoner, and either by torturing or bribing his page, he procured the golden ring which was the token between Mackenzie and Macaulay, the governor of Ellandonnan, who had strict orders not to quit the castle or suffer any one to enter it until he sent him that token. The Countess sent a gentleman to Ellandonnan with the ring, who, by her instructions, informed Macaulay that his master was, or shortly would be, married to the Countess of Ross, desiring the Governor to repair to his master and to leave the stronghold with him. Macaulay seeing and receiving the ring believed the story, and gave up the castle, but in a few days he discovered his mistake and found that his chief was a prisoner instead of being a bridegroom. He went straight to Dingwall, and finding an opportunity to communicate with Mackenzie, the latter made allegorical remarks by which Macaulay understood that nothing would secure his release but the apprehension of Ross of Balnagown, who was grand uncle, or grand uncle's son to the Countess. Macaulay returned to Kintail, made up a company of the "prettiest fellows" he could find of Mackenzie's family, and went back with them to Easter Ross, and in the morning apprehended Balnagown in a little arbour near the house, in a little wood to which he usually resorted for an airing, and, mounting him on horseback, carried him westward among the hills. Balnagown's friends were soon in pursuit, but fearing capture, Macaulay sent Balnagown away under guard, resolving to fight and detain the pursuers at Bealach nam Brog, as already described, until Balnagown was safely out of their reach. After his success here Macaulay went to Kintail, and at Glenluing, five miles from Ellandonnan, he overtook thirty men, sent by the Countess, with meal and other provisions for the garrison, and the spot, where they seized them is to this day called Innis nam Balg. Macaulay secured them, and placed his men in their upper garments and plaids, who took the sacks of meal on their backs, and went straight with them to the garrison, whose impoverished condition induced the Governor to admit them without any enquiry, not doubting but they were his own friends. Once inside they threw down their burdens, drew their weapons from under their plaids, seized the new Governor and all his men and kept them in captivity until Mackenzie was afterwards exchanged for the Governor and Balnagown. [Ardintoul MS.]
There has been considerable difference of opinion as to the date of this encounter, but it is finally set at rest by the discovery of a positive date in the Fowlis papers, where it is said that "George, the fourth Laird, and his son, begotton on Balnagown's daughter, were killed at the conflict of Beallach na Brog, in the year 1452, and Dingwall of Kildun, with several of their friends and followers, in taking back the Earl of Ross's second son from Clan Iver, Clan Tarlich or Maclennans, and Clan Leod." [The Earl of Cromarty gives a different version, and says that the battle or skirmish took place in the year immediately after the Battle of Harlaw. In this he is manifestly in error. The Highlanders, to defend themselves from the arrows of their enemies, with their belts tied their shoes on their breasts, hence the name "Bealach nam Brog," or the Pass of the Shoes.] The Balnagown of that date was not the Earl of Ross's son, but a near relative.
Angus Og, after many sanguinary conflicts with his father, finally overthrew him at the battle of the Bloody Bay, between Tobermory and Ardnamurchan, obtained possession of all the extensive territories of his clan, and was recognised as its legitimate head. He then determined to punish Mackenzie for having taken his father's part at Court, and otherwise, during the rebellion, and swore that he would recover from him the great possessions which originally belonged to his predecessors, the Lords of the Isles, but now secured by Royal Charter to the Baron of Kintail. With this object he decided to attack him, and marched to Inverness, where he expected to meet the now aged Mackenzie returning from attendance at Court. Angus, however, missed his object, and instead of killing Mackenzie, he was himself assassinated by his harper, an Irishman. This tragic, but well-merited, close to such a violent and turbulent career, is recorded in the Red Book of Clan Ranald in the following terms: "Donald, the son of Angus that was killed at Inverness by his own harper, son of John of the Isles, son of Alexander, son of Donald, son of John, son of Angus Og;" an event which must have occurred about 1485.
Alexander was the first of the family who lived on the island In Loch Kinellan, while at the same time he had Brahan as a "maines," or farm, both of which his successor for a time held from the King at a yearly rent, until Kenneth feued Brahan, and Colin, his son, feued Kinellan.
The Earl of Sutherland had been on friendly terms with Mackenzie, and appointed him as his deputy in the management of the Earldom of Ross, which devolved on him after the forfeiture. On one occasion, the Earl of Sutherland being in the south at Court, the Strathnaver men and the men of the Braes of Caithness took advantage of his absence and invaded Sutherland. An account of their conduct soon spread abroad, and reached the ears of the Chief of Kintail, who at once with a party of six hundred men, passed into Sutherland, where, the Earl's followers having joined him, he defeated the invaders, killed a large number of them, forced the remainder to sue for peace, and compelled them to give substantial security for their peaceful behaviour in future.
Kintail was now a very old man. His prudence and sagacity well repaid the judicious patronage of the first King James, confirmed and extended by his successors on the throne, and, as has been well said by his biographer, secured for him "the love and respect of three Princes in whose reign be flourished, and as his prudent management in the Earldom of Ross showed him to be a man of good natural parts, so it very much contributed to the advancement of the interest of his family by the acquisition of the lands he thereby made; nor was he less commendable for the quiet and peace he kept among his Highlanders, putting the laws punctually in execution against all delinquents." Such a character as this, justly called Alastair Ionraic, or the just, was certainly well fitted to govern, and deserved to flourish in the age in which he lived. Various important events occurred during the latter part of his life, but as Kenneth, his brave son and successor, was the actual leader of the clan for many years before his father's death, and especially at the celebrated battle of Park, the leading battles and feuds in which the clan was engaged during this period will be dealt with in the account of that Baron.
There has been much difference of opinion among the genealogists and family historians regarding Alexander's two wives. Both Edmonston in his Baronagium Genealogicum, and Douglas in his Peerage say that Alexander's first wife was Agnes, sixth daughter of Colin, first Earl of Argyll. This we shall prove to be absolutely impossible within the ordinary course of the laws of nature. Colin, first Earl of Argyll, succeeded as a minor in 1453, his uncle, Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, having been appointed his tutor. Colin of Argyll was created Earl in 1457, probably on his coming of age. He married Isabel Stewart of Lorn, had two sons, and, according to Crawford, five daughters. If he had a daughter Agnes she must have been his sixth daughter and eighth child. Assuming that Argyll married when he became of age, about 1457, Agnes, as his eighth surviving child, could not have been born before 1470. Her reputed husband, Alexander of Kintail, was then close upon 70 years of age, having died in 1488, bordering upon 90, when his alleged wife would barely have reached a marriageable age, and when her reputed son, Kenneth a Bhlair, pretty well advanced in years, had already fought the famous battle of Park. John of Killin, her alleged grandson, was born about 1480, when at most the lady said to have been his grandmother could only have been 10 to 15 years of age, and, in 1513, at the age of 33, he distinguished himself at the battle of Flodden, where Archibald second Earl of Argyll, the lady's brother, at least ten years older than Agnes, was slain. All this is of course impossible.
A similar difficulty has arisen, from what appears to be a very simple cause, about Alexander's second marriage. The authors of all the family MS. histories are unanimous in stating that his first wife was Anna, daughter of John Macdougall of Lorn, or Dunollich, known as John Mac Alan Mac Cowle, fourth in descent from Alexander de Ergedia and Lord of Lorn (1284), and eighth from Somerled, Thane of Argyle, who died in 1164. Though the direct line of the house of Lorn ended in two heiresses who, in 1388, carried away the property to their husbands, the Macdougalls of Dunollich became the male representatives of the ancient and illustrious house of Lorn; and this fully accounts for the difference and confusion which has been introduced about the families of Lorn and Dunollich in some of the Mackenzie family manuscripts.
The same authorities who affirm that Agnes of Argyll was Alexander's first wife assert that Anna Macdougall, was his second. There is ample testimony to show that the latter was his first, although some confusion has again arisen in this case from a similarity of names and patronymics. Some of the family MSS. say that Alexander's second wife was Margaret, daughter of "M'Couil," "M'Chouile," or "Macdougall" of Morir, or Morar, while others, among them the Allangrange Ancient MS. have it that she was "MacRanald's daughter." The Ardintoul MS. describes her as "Muidort's daughter." One of the Gairloch MSS. says that she was "Margarite, the daughter of Macdonald of Morar, of the Clan Ranald Race, from the stock of Donald, Lord of the Aebudae Islands," while in another MS. in Sir Kenneth Mackenzie's possession she is designated "Margaret Macdonald, daughter of Macdonald of Morar." There is thus an apparent contradiction, but it can be conclusively shown that the lady so variously described was one and the same person. Gregory in his Highlands and Islands of Scotland, p.158, states that "Macdougall" was the patronymic of one of the families of Clan Ranald of Moydart and Morar. Speaking of Dugald MacRanald, son and successor to Ranald Ban Ranaldson of Moydart, he says, "Allan the eldest son of Dougal, and the undoubted male heir of Clan Ranald, acquired the estate of Morar, which he transmitted to his descendants. He and his successors were always styled, in Gaelic, MacDhughail Mhorair, ie., MacDougal of Morar, from their ancestor, Dougald MacRanald." At p.65 he says that "the Clan Ranald of Garmoran comprehended the families of Moydart, Morar, Knoydart, and Glengarry." This family was descended from Ranald, younger son of John of the Isles, by his marriage with the heiress of the MacRorys or MacRuaries of Garmoran whose ancestry, from Somerled of the Isles, is as illustrious as that of any family in the kingdom. A district north of Arisaig is still known among the Western Islanders as "Mor-thir Mhic Dhughail" or the mainland possession of the son of Dougall. The MS. histories of the Mackenzies having been all written after the patronymic of "MacDhughail" was acquired by the Macdonalds of Moydart and Morar, they naturally enough described Alexander of Kintail's second wife as a daughter of Macdougall of Morar, of Muidort, and of Clan Ranald, indiscriminately. But in point of fact all these designations describe one and the same person.
Alexander married first, Anna, daughter of John Macdougall of Dunolly, with issue -
1. Kenneth, his heir and successor.
2. Duncan, progenitor of the Mackenzies of Hilton, and their branches, and of whom in their order as the senior cadet family of the clan.
He married secondly Margaret, daughter of Macdonald of Morar, a cadet of Clanranald, with issue -
3. Hector Roy or "Eachainn Ruadh," from whom are descended the Mackenzies of Gairloch and their various offshoots, of whom in their proper place.
4. A daughter, who married Allan Macleod, Hector Roy's predecessor in Gairloch.
He is also said to have had a natural son, Dugal, who became a priest and was Superior of the Priory of Beauly, which he repaired about 1478, and in which he is buried. This ecclesiastic is said by others to have been Alexander's brother. [Anderson's 'History of the Frasers,' p.66; and MS. History of the Mackenzies.]
Alexander died in 1488 at Kinellan, having attained the extreme old age of 90 years, was buried in the Priory of Beauly, and was succeeded by his eldest son by the first marriage,
VII. KENNETH MACKENZIE,
Better known as "Coinneach a' Bhlair," or Kenneth of the Battle, from his prowess and success against the Macdonalds at the Battle of Park during his father's life-time. He was served heir to his predecessor and seized in the lands of Kintail at Dingwall on the 2nd of September, 1488. He secured the cognomen "Of the Battle" from the distinguished part he took in "Blar-na-Pairc" fought at a well-known spot still pointed out near Kinellan, above Strathpeffer. His father was advanced in life before Kenneth married, and as soon as the latter arrived at twenty years of age Alexander thought it prudent, with the view of establishing peace between the two families, to match Kenneth, his heir and successor, with Margaret, daughter of John Lord of the Isles and fourth Earl of Ross, and for ever extinguish their ancient feuds in that alliance. The Island chief willingly consented and the marriage was in due course solemnised. About a year after, the Earl's nephew and apparent heir, Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh, came to Ross, and, feeling more secure in consequence of this matrimonial alliance between the family of Mackenzie and his own, took possession of Balcony House and the adjoining lands, where, at the following Christmas, he provided a great feast for his old dependants, inviting to it also most of the more powerful chiefs and barons north of the Spey, and among others, Kenneth Mackenzie, his cousin's husband. The house of Balcony being at the time very much out of repair, he could not conveniently lodge all his distinguished guests within it, and had accordingly to arrange for some of them in the outhouses as best he could. Kenneth did not arrive until Christmas Eve, accompanied by a train of forty able bodied men, according to the custom of the times, but without his lady, which deeply offended Macdonald. Maclean of Duart had chief charge of the arrangements in the house and the disposal of the guests. Some days previously he had a disagreement with Kenneth at some games, and, on his arrival, Maclean told the heir of Kintail that, taking advantage of his connection with the family, they had taken the liberty of providing him with lodgings in the kiln. Kenneth considered this an insult, and, divining that it proceeded from Maclean's illwill to him, he instantly struck him a blow on the ear, which threw him to the ground. The servants in the house viewed this as a direct insult to their chief, Macdonald, and at once took to arms. Kenneth, though sufficiently bold, soon perceived that he had no chance to light successfully or to beat a retreat, and, noticing several boats lying on the shore, which had been provided for the transport of the guests, he took as many of them as he required, sank the rest, and passed with his followers to the opposite shore, where he remained over night in the house of a tenant, who, like a good many more in those days, had no surname, but was simply known by a patronymic. Kenneth, boiling with passion, was sorely affronted at the insult which he had received, and at being from his own house at Christmas, staying with a stranger, and off his own property. In these circumstances, he requested his host to adopt the name of Mackenzie, promising him protection in future, so that be might thus be able to say that he slept under the roof of one of his own name. The man at once consented, and his posterity were ever after known as Mackenzies.
Next morning (Christmas Day) Kenneth went to the hill above Chanonry, and sent word to the Bishop, who was at the time enjoying his Christmas with some of his clergy, that he desired to speak to him. The Bishop knowing his man's temper and the turbulent state of the times thought it prudent to comply with this request, though be considered it very strange to receive such a message on such a day, and wondered much what his visitors object could be. He soon found that Kenneth simply wanted a feu of the small piece of land on which was situated the house in which he had lodged the previous night, stating, as his reason, "lest Macdonald should brag that he had forced him on Christmas Day to lodge at another man's discretion, and not on own heritage." The Bishop, willing to oblige him probably afraid to do otherwise, and perceiving him in such a rage, at once sent for his clerk and there and then granted him a charter of the township of Cullicudden, whereupon Kenneth returned to the place and remained in it all day, lording over it as his own property. The place was kept by him and his successors until Colin "Cam" acquired more of the Bishop's lands in the neighbourhood, and afterwards exchanged the whole with the Sheriff of Cromarty for lands in Strathpeffer.
Next day Kenneth started for Kinellan, where his father, the old chief Alexander, resided, and related to him what had taken place. His father was much grieved, for he well knew that the smallest difference between the families would revive their old grievances, and, although there was less danger since Macdonald's interest in Ross was smaller than in the past, yet he knew the clan to be a powerful one still, more so than his own, in their number of able-bodied warriors; but these considerations, strongly impressed upon the son by the experienced and aged father, only added fuel to the fire in Kenneth's bosom, which was already fiercely burning to avenge the insult offered him by Macdonald's servants. His natural impetuosity could ill brook any such insult and he considered himself wronged so much that he felt it his duty personally to retaliate and avenge it. While this was the state of his mind matters were suddenly brought to a crisis by the arrival on the fourth day of a messenger from Macdonald with a summons requesting Alexander and his son Kenneth to remove from Kinellan, with all their families, within twenty-four hours, allowing only that the young Lady Margaret, Macdonald's own cousin, might remain until she had more leisure to remove, and threatening war to the knife in case of noncompliance.
Kenneth's rage now became ungovernable, and, without consulting his father or waiting his counsel, he bade the messenger tell Macdonald that his father would remain where he was in spite of him and all his power. As for himself, he accepted no rules as to his staying or going, but Macdonald would be sure enough to hear of him wherever he was. As for Macdonald's cousin, Lady Margaret, since he had no desire to keep further peace with his family he would no longer keep his relative.
Such was the defiant message sent to young Macdonald, and immediately after its despatch, Kenneth sent away Lady Margaret, in the most ignominious manner, to Balcony House. The lady was blind of an eye, and, to insult her cousin to the utmost, he sent her back to him mounted on a one-eyed horse, accompanied by a one-eyed servant, followed by a one-eyed dog. She was in a delicate state of health, and this inhumanity grieved her so much that she never after wholly recovered. Her son, recently born, the only issue of the marriage, was named Kenneth, and to distinguish him from his father was called "Coinneach Og" or Kenneth the younger.
It appears that Kenneth had no great affection for Lady Margaret, for a few days after he sent her away he went to Lord Lovat accompanie by two hundred of his followers and besieged his house. Lovat was naturally surprised at his conduct and demanded an explanation, when he was informed by Kenneth that he came to demand his daughter Agnes in marriage now that he had no wife, having, as he told him, disposed of Lady Margaret in the manner already described. He insisted upon an immediate and favourable reply to his suit on which condition he promised to be on strict terms of friendship with the family; but, if his demand was refused he would swear mortal enmity against Lovat and his house; and, as evidence of his intention in this respect, he pointed out to his lordship that he already bad a party of his vassals outside gathering together the men, women, and goods that were nearest in the vicinity, all of whom, be declared, should "be made one fyne to evidence his resolution." Lovat, who had no particularly friendly feelings towards Macdonald of the Isles, was not at all indisposed to procure Mackenzie's friendship on the terms proposed, and considering the exigencies and danger of his retainers, and knowing full well the bold and determined character of the man he had to deal with, he consented to the proposed alliance, provided the voting lady herself was favourable. She fortunately proved submissive. Lord Lovat delivered her up to her suitor, who immediately returned borne with her, and ever after they lived together as husband and wife.
Macdonald was naturally very much exasperated by Kenneth's defiant answer to himself and the repeated insults heaped upon his relative, and through her upon her family. He therefore dispatched his great steward, Maclean, to collect his followers in the Isles, as also to advise and request the aid of his nearest relations on the mainland - the Macdonalds of Moidart and Clan Jan of Ardnamurchan. In a short time they mustered a force between them of about fifteen hundred men - some say three thousand - and arranged with Macdonald to meet him at Contin. They assumed that Alexander Mackenzie, now so old, would not have gone to Kintail, but would stay in Ross, judging that the Macdonalds, so recently come under obligations to the King to keep the peace would not venture to collect their forces and invade the low country. But Kenneth, foreseeing the danger from the rebellious temper of Macdonald, went to Kintail at the commencement of his enemy's preparations, and placed a strong garrison, with sufficient provisions, in Ellandonnan Castle; and the cattle and other goods in the district he ordered to be driven and sent to the most remote hills and secret places. He took all the remaining able-bodied men along with him, and on his way back to Kinellan he was joined by his dependants in Strathconan, Strathgarve, and other glens in the Braes of Ross, all fully determined to defend Kenneth and his aged father at the expense, if need be, of their lives, small as their united forces were in comparison with that against which they knew they would soon have to contend.
Macdonald had meanwhile collected his friends, and, at the head of a large body of Western Highlanders, advanced through Lochaber into Badenoch, where he was joined by the Clan Chattan; marched to Inverness, where they were met by the young laird of Kilravock and some of Lovat's people; reduced the Castle (then a royal fortress), placed a garrison in it, and proceeded to the north-east, plundering the lands of Sir Alexander Urquhart, Sheriff of Cromarty. They next marched westward to the district of Strathconan, ravaged the lands of the Mackenzies as they went, and put the inhabitants and more immediate retainers of the family to the sword, resolutely determined to punish Mackenzie for his ill-treatment of Lady Margaret and recover possession of that part of the Earldom of Ross forfeited by the earls of that name, and now the property of Mackenzie by Royal charter. Having wasted Strathconan, Macdonald arrived on Sunday morning at Contin, where he found the people in great terror and confusion; and the able-bodied men having already joined Mackenzie, the aged, the women, and the children took refuge in the church, thinking themselves secure within its precincts from any enemy professing Christianity. They soon, to their horror, found out their mistake. Macdonald, having little or no scruples on the score of religion, ordered the doors to be closed and guarded, and then set fire to the building. The priest, together with the hapless crowd of helpless and aged men, women and children, were all burnt to ashes.
Some of those who were fortunate enough not to have been in Contin church immediately started for Kinellan, and informed Mackenzie of the hideous massacre. Alexander, though deeply grieved at the cruel destruction of his people, expressed his gratitude that the enemy, whom he had hitherto considered too numerous to contend with successfully, had now engaged God against them by their impious conduct. Contin was not far from Kinellan, and Macdonald, thinking that Mackenzie would not remain at the latter place with such a comparatively small force, ordered Gillespic to draw up his followers on the large moor, now known as "Blar-na-Pairc," that he might review them, and send out a detachment to pursue the enemy. Kenneth Mackenzie, who had received the command of the clan from the old chief, had meantime posted his men in a strong position - on ground where he considered he could defend himself against a superior force, and conveniently situated to attack the enemy if a favourable opportunity occurred. His followers only amounted to six hundred, while his opponent had at least three times that number, but he had the advantage in another respect inasmuch as he had sufficient provisions for a much longer period than Macdonald could possibly procure for his larger force, the country people having driven their cattle and all the provender that might be of service to the enemy out of his reach. About mid-day the Islesmen were drawn up on the moor, about a quarter of a mile distant from the position occupied by the Mackenzies, the opposing forces being only separated from each other by a peat moss, full of deep pits and deceitful bogs. Kenneth, fearing a siege, had shortly before this prevailed upon his aged father to retire to the Raven's Rock, above Strathpeffer, to which place, strong and easily defended, he resolved to follow him in case he were compelled to retreat before the numerically superior force of his enemy. This the venerable Alexander did, recommending his son to the assistance and protection of a Higher Power, at the same time assuring him of success, notwithstanding the far more numerous numbers of his adversary.
By the nature of the ground, Kenneth perceived that Macdonald could not bring all his forces to the attack at once, and he accordingly resolved to maintain his ground and try the effects of a stratagem which he correctly calculated would mislead his opponent and place him at a serious disadvantage. He acquainted his younger brother, Duncan, with his resolution and plans, and sent him off, before the struggle commenced, with a body of archers to be placed in ambush, while he determined to cross the peat-bog himself and attack Macdonald in front with the main body, intending to retreat as soon as his adversary returned the attack, and thus entice the Islesmen to pursue him. He informed Duncan of his own intention to retreat and commanded him to be in readiness with his archers to charge the enemy whenever they got fairly into the moss and entangled among the pits and bogs.
Having made these preliminary arrangements, he boldly advanced to meet the foe, leading his resolute band in the direction of the intervening moss. Macdonald, seeing him, cried in derision to Gillespic to see "Mackenzie's impudent madness, daring thus to face him at such disadvantage." Gillespic, being a more experienced leader than the youthful and impetuous Alexander, said that "such extraordinary boldness should be met by more extraordinary wariness in us, lest we fall into unexpected inconvenience." Macdonald, in a towering passion, replied to this wise counsel - "Go you also and join with them, and it will not need our care nor move the least fear in my followers; both of you will not be a breakfast to me and mine." Meanwhile Mackenzie advanced a little beyond the moss, avoiding, from his intimate knowledge of it, all the dangerous pits and bogs, when Maclean of Lochbuy, who led the van of the enemy's army, advanced and charged him with great fury. Mackenzie, according to his pre-arranged plan, at once retreated, but in so masterly a manner that, in doing so, he inflicted as much damage on the enemy as he received. The Islesmen speedily got entangled in the moss, and Duncan Mackenzie observing this, rushed forth from his ambush and furiously attacked them in flank and rear, killing most of those who had entered the bog. He then turned his attention to the main body of the Islesmen, who were quite unprepared for so sudden an onslaught. Kenneth, setting this, charged with his main body, who were all well instructed in their leader's design, and, before the enemy were able to form in order of battle, he fell on their right flank with such impetuosity and did such execution among them that they were compelled to fall back in confusion before the splendid onset of the small force which they had so recently sneered at and despised. Gillespic, stung by Alexander Macdonald's taunt before the engagement began, to prove to him that "though he was wary in council he was not fearful in action," sought out Kenneth Mackenzie, that he might engage him in single combat, and followed by some of his bravest followers he, with signal valour, did great execution among the Mackenzies in course of his approach to Kenneth, who was in the hottest of the fight, and who, seeing Gillespic coming in his direction, advanced to meet him, killing, wounding, or scattering any of the Macdonalds that came in his way. He made a signal to Gillespic to advance and meet him hand-to-hand, but, finding him hesitating, Kenneth, who far exceeded him in strength while he equalled him in courage, would brook no tedious debate but pressed on with fearful eagerness, at one blow cut off Gillespic's arm and passed very far into his body so that he fell down dead on the spot.